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•The hiring of home health aides in Florida is loosely regulated and poses substantial risks to the elderly and ill, stated an editorial in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Recently, a doctor who had lost his medical license in Pennsylvania for Medicaid fraud still managed to get a job as a home health aide in Florida and is now accused of neglecting an elderly man. "Regardless of the outcome of that case," stated the editorial, "the Legislature should take additional steps to prevent abuse. Florida should require agencies to conduct nationwide background checks on home health aides. Some agencies perform them voluntarily, but they should be mandated." As it stands now, agencies have to check whether the applicants have criminal histories only within the state.
•Americans may soon be able to deduct on their income-tax return the premiums they pay for long term care insurance. "Whoop-de-do," wrote Scott Lara, director of government affairs for the Home Care Association of America (Jacksonville, FL) in a letter to the editor published in the Washington Times. Lara believes Republicans should say publicly that because of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, $48 billion was cut from home healthcare. "Instead of giving a tax break to families taking care of sick seniors, the Republican-led House of Representatives should restore some funding to the Medicare home health benefit, which is cheaper than nursing home or hospital care and allows sick seniors to remain in their homes."
•During a public forum sponsored by the coalition There’s No Place Like Home, Stephen Taylor was touched by stories of disabled people struggling for home care support. Taylor is the director of the Center on Human Policy at Syracuse University. He wrote a column about the forum, highlighting tales of Alzheimer’s patients sent to nursing homes when they could be taken care of at home. The families seeking home care do not take kindly to bureaucratic run-around, Taylor wrote. New York spends more than $5 billion a year for about 100,000 people in nursing homes. "If we as citizens and taxpayers are willing to spend our tax dollars to place people in nursing homes," Taylor wrote, "why can’t we make the same resources available to support people with disabilities and elderly persons at home?"
•In a letter to the editor printed in the Washington Post, Katherine Steven, an employee at a children’s hospital, complained about the number of home care agencies closing due to the lack of payment for D.C. Medicaid clients. This is happening when more healthcare occurs at home. "Home care service is essential," she wrote. "Without it, families are unable to provide proper care for their children. And without it, hospitalization stays and admissions may increase, resulting in an increased burden to Medicaid because hospitalization is a much greater expense than home care."
•An editorial in the Capital Times by Wisconsin Homecare Organization President Russell King said that the state needs to increase its Medicaid reimbursement rates in order for the Family Care pilot expansion proposal to work. The proposal which is in the state’s budget bill needs a strong home healthcare network to succeed, but a number of home health agencies have closed in Wisconsin, King wrote. The agencies used to offset Medicaid losses through Medicare, but with the federal government slashing those benefits, it is no longer an option. And Wisconsin’s Medicaid rates are the lowest of all surrounding states. The state contributes about $2.8 million, he wrote. That is less "than the $3 million spent on a fish farming demonstration center" or "the $7 million spent on grooming snowmobile trails."